Forget lockdowns – it’s all about this year’s success stories and looking ahead to 2021 growth

There’s been an endless flood of media headlines stating this is a year for the history books – mass disruption for businesses and individuals, remote working now the new norm and hand sanitiser galore.

Despite this, a majority of B2B organizations have been quietly going about their business, ensuring ‘business as usual’, securing contracts and planning for ambitious 2021 ramp-ups and expansions. B2B marketing and PR has played its part, with strong media coverage secured and brands firmly positioned in new markets and geographies.

As we prepare to move into the festive period, here’s the IBA International take on what’s been a year of change, adaptation and success – plus a hint of what lies ahead.

B2B events go digital – a new platform for tried-and-tested industry conferences

We’ve all read the stories of the mass shift to remote and hybrid working patterns, but this has provided far more opportunities for B2B marketers than simply an opportunity to sit at home in their slippers working on a laptop. Many leading B2B technology companies have used this to explore digitising more ‘traditional’ marketing methods and outlets.

Case in point is our global insurance technology provider client, that leapt at the chance to transform an annual industry conference into a digital experience and fully-virtual event – complete with online breakout sessions and a virtualised ‘innovation lab’. A roaring success no less, with record-breaking registration figures from executives and decision-makers from across the industry.

IBA was proud to support this with a two-pronged approach to content marketing, helping existing content be reshaped into material for expert sessions at the virtual event, and then repurposing event content into thought leadership articles for media pitching and client website assets. The iBAengage team also went to work on the social amplification front, drafting powerful content based on on-demand event sessions to drive further interest and lead capture.

Newsjacking a positive theme reaps great rewards

A few months into the COVID-19 pandemic the trade and technology media had moved on from ‘shock and awe’ reporting to focus on how the most forward-looking organizations had adapted to meet the challenges posed by social distancing and maintaining safety. It was here that the IBA team identified an opportunity for our enterprise software client in the defense sector.

Military organizations are perhaps one of the most traditional around, with hierarchical structures, manual processes and managing a huge amount of personnel and physical equipment. But it was during our hot topic research across global A&D media outlets that we noticed multiple examples of military organizations adopting remote working principles and unblocking the bureaucracy of its traditionally heavily paper-based processes.

This is where our client came in. Their enterprise software runs on mobiles devices, streamlines digital reporting across military stakeholders in real time and even provides a remote assistance functionality that uses merged reality to allow senior experts to provide virtual help to less experienced engineers when repairing military equipment.

Across the late spring/early summer the team produced a bylined article to address this industry hot topic, penned by a military subject matter expert from our client. The resulting iterations of the copy have been placed 12 times in defense publications spanning North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific – with further coverage expected into 2021.  It’s now a blog post, out on corporate socials and shared via employee advocacy platforms. Talk about a running theme!

IBA festive cheer at the end of an unprecedented year

2020 has been a busy year for IBA as well! We conducted our own market research to look at how B2B organizations are plotting new ways forward following Covid-19 and Brexit – and whether the right sort of agency support is readily available to support their plans for global expansion. Our first research paper revealed that 26% of B2B organizations are planning to venture into new geographies post-Brexit and -Covid and 28% into new industries – a much more optimistic outlook than the mainstream media is portraying.

But 40% of respondents felt budget restrictions would limit their expansion plans.

Our second market research report revealed some home-truths about the state of PR agency performance: only 11% of surveyed organizations were satisfied with their agency support! Following our research, we have launched the Global Outreach Hub new low-cost, high-impact PR service to help B2B organizations gain PR traction in new industries and geographies – without breaking the bank.

We’re looking forward to helping more organizations expand their scope in 2021 with our new PR service. You can find more information about the Global Outreach Hub here.

And in case you didn’t receive it and it fell into junk (perish the thought), here’s our Greeting Card for 2020 to cheer you all up – we thought it has been such dour year, some festive cheer was required!

Judith Ingleton-Beer is CEO of IBA International.

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